Skye Sweetnam

Noise from the Basement

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Apparently Canada is full of spunky teenage girls with kicky names and brash fashion sense, ready and waiting to trick out their diary entries with professional mixing and the ragged ring of loud guitars. They'll then take the tapes to our shared border, amassing there under spangled denim signal flags, and their ensuing invasion will lighten our dreary lives with catchy tales of skipping school and kissing cuties. Unlike her predecessors, Toronto's Skye Sweetnam isn't here to bitch. She secures the complicated conch Fefe Dobson so briefly held with 13 songs about one thing, which is nicely summarized in the utterly inescapable hook to "Billy S." "Feel for once what it's like to rebel now," she says, and chases it with a 21st century twist on the Bard's phrasing: "To skip or not to skip/That is the question." Noise from the Basement doesn't dwell on weighty emotions, or prop its centerpiece up in entirely unrealistically sexy situations. It's not even down with being bratty, though that style's here like magic-marker doodles on the knees of Sweetnam's jeans. No. Instead of playing rebel, this one wants a widescreen teen movie rewrite of 21st century real life. She and her people (principally a producer/writer/performer fellow named James Robertson) have rewritten the adolescent experience as a feel-good personal power trip, and set it blatantly to a tingly power-chord soundtrack mixed by shop teacher to the stars Tom Lord-Alge. Amazingly, this makes Basement purer than most of these popternative releases, for it fakes neither its immaturity nor its intent to make the notion rock. "You and your friends are dense/You don't make any sense," "It's so frustrating/You're not the type that I should be dating" -- the lines are pulled straight from Sweetnam's text message box, cleaned up with Pro Tools and auto-tuning, and promptly matched to gargantuan sugar-rock guitars. Done, done, and done. Add an opportunistic, soundtrack-ready cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass," fill out Robertson and Sweetnam's songs with a few professionally crafted rockers in the theme of the album (opener "Number One" is gender-opposite, just-as-cocky Sum 41), and suddenly Amanda Bynes is signing on to star. And that's Noise from the Basement. It remixes every impulse and daydream from the eighth through the 12th grades; it's what youth would sound like if every teenager had a production team.

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